Beware of what you wish for….
"It's most unfair that adventures like gypsies should happen to Miss Bickerton" complained Miss Lucilla Jones to her crony, Marianne Hopkins.
Miss Hopkins sniffed.
"She ran away – from a little child, I heard her and Miss Smith talking about it" she said.
"Miss Bickerton is such a coward" said Miss Jones with scorn. "I would love to have adventures. It might even be fun to be abducted by gypsies and – and earn my living dancing and begging so there!"
Miss Hopkins gasped.
"You don't MEAN that, Lucy!" she said.
Lucilla Jones considered, as she bit into an apple with even white teeth.
"No, probably not" she said. "But it can be very unsettling, you know, being aware only that you are the daughter of Somebody who is paying for education and is otherwise uninterested in you. If I were stolen by gypsies, maybe the Somebody might take more interest in me as a person."
"I expect he's married" said Marianne Hopkins wisely.
The children of Mrs Goddard's school, other than local girls, were those who found themselves generally unwanted for one reason or another and were inclined to a knowledge of the realities of the world that would probably have shocked their revered preceptresses had they known the full extent of their charges' knowledge; even a pair of ten year old girls like Miss Jones and Miss Hopkins.
Miss Jones contemplated the apple core she had mostly demolished and considered throwing it away, but prudence prevailed. Miss Nash the head teacher had passed beneath the tree in which the two small girls were blissfully and illegally concealed, and she was well known to have eyes in the back of her head, as the saying goes. Instead Miss Jones held the apple core by the extreme end of the stalk and concentrated on it. It incinerated itself quite readily.
Miss Hopkins sighed ecstatically.
"I DO wish you would teach me how to do that, Lucy!" she declared.
"Silly, I would if I could only figure it out myself" said Lucilla. "I just concentrate and it happens – sometimes. I wouldn't have known if I hadn't accidentally burned my writing book."
"And was Miss Nash ever more angry!" breathed Marianne.
Lucilla sighed. That had not been a pleasant experience, especially since she had not been able to explain it; and Miss Nash had taken it that Lucilla was merely refusing to tell her what manner of naughtiness had managed to lead to unauthorised combustion.
Lucilla had to admit that this was not actually an unreasonable supposition on Miss Nash's part since it had been Lucilla and Marianne who had managed to purchase Chancel's friction matches and put them to illicit use in trying to cook bacon in the room they shared when banished to bed on no more than bread and dripping for some misdemeanour. Though the uncertain nature of the match had been somewhat frightening, it had not been the vagaries of such new and untried devices that had been their undoing but the rather distinctive smell of bacon. Words like 'untrustworthy' and 'dishonourable' still made Lucilla squirm at the memory, never having considered that when punished by a loss of supper that it would then be a betrayal of honour to break that punishment by other means. That had hurt more than the minor burns and the hilarity of the rest of the school over her lost eyebrows and frizzed front hair.
To be sure, that might be considered to have been an adventure – at least, discovering the vagaries of the friction matches had been – but it was not like a real adventure like meeting gypsies.
Lucilla sighed again.
When the girls returned to the school, a maid met them with a bobbed curtsey and a request that Miss Jones was required in Mrs Goddard's office.
"But I haven't done anything!" declared Lucilla, a little dismayed.
"Well you will have done if you don't move fast, because then you'll be guilty of being tardy" said her friend, practically. Lucilla winced. Mrs Goddard was very easy going on the whole but Lucilla had, more than once, been required to return one hundred lines of Machiavelli's comment, "Punctuality is the politeness of Princes".
She scurried to the office and knocked.
"Enter!" she heard Mrs Goddard's voice; and went in, in some trepidation, in case something had happened for which she was to be blamed. Seated before Mrs Goddard's desk was a most elegant gentleman, dressed in skin tight buckskins and a black merino jacket that fitted over a slender but muscular frame without a wrinkle. The black velvet waistcoat was adorned with a silver fob, curiously wrought in the shape of a coiled snake. The fact that he wore his pale hair long, confined in an old fashioned way in a black silk bag did nothing to dispel what was otherwise an air of fashion. Lucilla thought him to be in his early twenties perhaps. She wracked her brain to imagine what she might have done to have annoyed so beautiful a young man that he needed to come and complain about her. He regarded her from hooded eyes the colour of polished pewter as he leaned on a cane topped with yet another silver snake, this one fanged and gaping, as he rose, almost mockingly, to bow. Lucilla dropped a curtsey quickly and glanced under her lashes at Mrs Goddard.
Mrs Goddard was smiling. Lucilla relaxed. Maybe she was not in trouble.
"Lucilla, my dear," said Mrs Goddard, "Permit me to introduce you to your half-brother, Mr Tarquin Malfoy. He has made some decisions about your future; I will leave you with him to explain" and with that she rose gracefully and exited the room. Mr Malfoy produced a quizzing glass to look at Lucilla, who blushed, aware that her muslin gown had tree moss on it and a torn ruffle near the hem.
"This" said Mr Malfoy "Is a glass of true seeing. It confirms what I have thought. You may show me what you can do."
"I – I beg your pardon sir?" said Lucilla. "Am I to call you Tarquin if you are my brother?" she ventured as an afterthought.
Mr Malfoy clenched his jaw.
"You are not" he said. "You will call me Mr Malfoy. The connection cannot be acknowledged. And I gave you an order; I believe you have had some success with fire summoning spells. Pray demonstrate."
"Spells? That makes it sound like witchcraft; do you think I am a child to be taken in by such Banbury tales? OOWW!" she added as, with a gesture, Mr Malfoy hoisted her into the air, leaving her feeling as though she were floating like the hot air balloon all the school had been permitted to run out to see as it went over the village.
"You are a witch" he said, dispassionately, crossing one elegant Hessian boot across his other thigh. "As I am a wizard. It is a matter of heritance; unfortunately my father has libertine tendencies and he has sired YOU out of wedlock. The connection cannot be acknowledged as your mother," he looked pained, "Was NOT a witch. In short, she was a mudblood, like all these… people… in this school. It is not seemly that a witch, even a halfblood, should associate with such, but obviously nor can you acknowledge a connexion to a pureblood family like the Malfoys. Were you to continue here, however, the Ministry would soon interfere because of your use of magic – I have managed to suppress the knowledge of it coming to the notice of anyone interfering as yet – and my father's peccadilloes would be know. I am prepared to pay you a handsome allowance for your silence on this matter and to see that you have the best of everything at Hogwarts. That, by the way, is the premier school for wizards and witches in England."
"You mean there are BOYS there too?" Lucilla was shocked.
"Of course there are boys there too; do you think we are as benighted as continental wizards that think that witches cannot attain such academic standards as wizards?" said Mr Malfoy, scornfully. Lucilla gave a squeal of delight.
"You mean I shall have the same education as a boy?" she said.
"Only if you learn to do as you are told and perform the tasks adequately that I have asked of you!" said Mr Malfoy.
Lucilla promptly produced a flame out of one finger.
He nodded and she felt herself being lowered to the floor. It was not especially gently performed. He twisted the head of his cane, and Lucilla gasped, expecting a blade to be withdrawn; instead it was a short, slightly knobbly stick. Mr Malfoy detached it from the head of the snake and passed it to her.
"Make a pass or two" he said.
Lucilla did so, wondering what this was for; and a few stars popped out of the end of the stick, silvery ones and the odd rather sickly green one. Mr Malfoy nodded.
"You will definitely perform well enough when you have your own wand" he said in some satisfaction. "And you will learn control of magic at school. Very well; a servant will collect you in a week to shop for your school essentials in Diagon Alley. I cannot afford to be seen with you. Then you will stay in a London property of mine until it is time to take the Knight Mail to school with other pupils from London. You will be starting with my – and your – cousin, Lucifer Malfoy. I have not yet decided whether to tell him of your existence; but probably not. A secret shared is no secret. And remember, Miss Jones, if anyone finds out from you, I will withdraw all funding immediately and you will be penniless, memories of your education will be removed by the Ministry since you will be unable to stay at Hogwarts to graduate and thus earn a place in wizarding society, and you will have lost any position you have in muggle society. I need hardly warn you what that means."
Soberly Lucilla nodded. A girl with no relatives, no education in the things thought proper for a girl to know, that she might at least get a position as a governess, had very few choices in the world.
Part of her wanted to hate this supercilious brother of hers who sneered at her friends here and at her unknown mother; and part of her was excited by the whole adventure, far more of an adventure than being kidnapped by gypsies!
She could hardly wait to move to a school that actually taught magic!